Thursday night I went to sleep expecting Friday to be a normal work day. Though the day was also Randy's birthday, we weren't planning to celebrate until Saturday afternoon and evening. I was happily dreaming at 3 a.m. that morning when I felt something touch my hand. I didn't respond until the second or third touch, when I suddenly realized Randy wanted me to wake up. This is not normal. He never wakes me in the middle of the night, so I instantly knew something was wrong. "What's the matter? Are you okay?"

"No. I don't feel so good."

Coming from my non-complaining husband, this sent my adrenaline pumping. His "I don't feel so good" was equivalent to my "I feel horrible."

"Where don't you feel good?"

"I feel this pressure in my chest. I'm nauseated, and my hands and feet are tingling."

"Do you want me to call an ambulance?"

"I don't know."

Panic sent me to wake Ryan because by now Randy was freaking me out. Was he having a heart attack? Ryan has had first aid training, though how coherent he felt at that hour, jolted out of a sound sleep, I don't know. But after he took his dad's pulse and found it normal, I decided to drive the short distance rather than call the ambulance. By now, my blood pressure was rising, and I begged God to keep me calm.

We arrived at the hospital and found an empty waiting room, so they took him right away. Once they heard the symptoms and feared it was his heart, things moved quickly. The first few tests were normal, so we relaxed a bit. Because it was his birthday, they seemed to move things quicker for him. Everyone that walked by wished him a happy birthday. They got him into a room and into the rest of the tests, including the stress test faster than I could have imagined. Of course, fast still took 12 hours before we were home, but once we knew he was okay and passed the tests with flying colors, we were relieved to spend the rest of the weekend at home, and ended up able to celebrate his birthday as planned.

It turns out, stress seems to be a factor that has triggered other symptoms that mimicked a heart attack. Strange what stress can do to a person. The weird thing is, he has been under stress all year and has completed a number of tasks that have relieved some of that stress. But more has been added in recent weeks and the stress is rising. Our bodies don't take kindly to too many deadlines.

My body is still trying to recover from being jolted awake at 3 a.m. There is that fear that more could go wrong. We are more fragile than we think, and life is but a breath. David was right when he said, "All men are like grass..." Life is far too fleeting.

And far more valuable than projects that need finishing. I'm learning this as well, and realizing that if I don't enjoy each moment now, they will be gone before I know it. I'm grateful for the moments I have now, for the man I married and for the health we have both enjoyed. And I pray there will be no more unexpected scary moments like this...


PersonalJill Eileen Smith